The only thing in Martin's life that brings him any pleasure is his DVD of The Human Centipede (First Sequence), and boy, does it bring him pleasure. His mind warped from his miserable life, he develops a sexual attraction to the film's content and becomes aroused at scenes of the victims surgically attached mouth-to-anus in a "centipede" formation. Martin becomes so obsessed, in fact, that he decides to make his own centipede -- this time a dozen people long.
He finds a steady flow of victims through his job, brazenly kidnapping garage patrons one by one (or two by two) for his sick experiment. Unlike the mad scientist in the movie, however, Martin knows nothing about medicine, and the only surgical tools he has at his disposal are actual tools -- hammers, staple guns and such -- which is about to make his victims' already bad day even worse.
The End Result
While the original Human Centipede generated tons of buzz for its outrageous concept, the film itself was surprisingly restrained, never explicitly showing any of the potentially offensive aspects of surgically connecting people's digestive tracts. The Human Centipede 2 is the movie that most people assumed The Human Centipede would be: crude, graphic, base and morally reprehensible. It's also, given a certain open-mindedness, fascinating, hypnotic and darkly humorous -- at least, until the final 10 or 15 minutes.
Despite the British Board of Film Classification's assertion that the film might "deprave or corrupt a significant proportion" of its audience, the content of The Human Centipede 2 is so ridiculous that it's hard to take seriously enough to be concerned about its impact. Ironically, the plot revolves around the influence of cinema on its viewers, doing so in such broad, caricature-filled strokes as to mock the idea that there's anyone like Martin who would ever emulate the actions from the original Human Centipede. If I didn't know better (and frankly, I don't), I'd say writer-director Tom Six aimed to be banned in order to further his point about the ludicrousness of movies corrupting society.
If he did plan it all, it would certainly fall in line with the interplay of art and reality within the film, a creative concept reminiscent of Wes Craven's New Nightmare in which the setting is the "real world" and actors from the first movie portray themselves in the sequel. Unfortunately, all the script for Human Centipede 2 offers is the that concept and the camp and shock value of the protagonist's actions. The action isn't played for scares, and unlike A Serbian Film, there are no sympathetic characters and thus no drama, nor any real narrative cohesion. Stuff happens, then it stops happening. The end. You endure the ugliness of the film in part because you're curious about where it will lead, and sadly it leads down an increasingly mean-spirited path to nowhere.
Six's quirkily matter-of-fact direction and Harvey's portrayal of Martin, however, keep us engaged. You almost root for the bullied, diminutive Martin -- hardly a typical horror villain -- with his rotund figure and bulging Peter Lorre eyes. Six's decision to have him be virtually mute adds to the universality of the film and, combined with the black-and-white format, makes Martin a sort of modern-day Frankenstein figure, lumbering through life, abused and hamfistedly laying waste to all he touches.
- Acting: C+ (A bit over-the-top, but then again, so is the movie.)
- Direction: B- (Conveys campy, ridiculous, potentially offensive content in an engaging manner.)
- Script: D (Peters out at the end; lacks a certain artistry..)
- Gore/Effects: B+ (Wince-inducing, realistic, plentiful gore.)
- Overall: C (An intriguing concept lathered in gore ends up delivering little more than shock value.)
The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is directed by Tom Six and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: October 7, 2011.